The Mainframe Mastered

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Master the Mainframe 1Today is the first day of IBM Edge in Las Vegas, where thousands of business leaders are gathering to develop new strategies to accelerate technology breakthroughs, extend infrastructure, and capture new markets. And one of the most exciting parts of the event is the announcement of the winners of IBM’s Master The Mainframe competition, which recognizes the top young mainframers from around the world.

That’s right: young mainframers!

Master the Mainframe promotes computer science education and mainframe skills around the world. High school and college students from over 38 countries on six continents compete, gaining real-world enterprise computing experience. This competition is sponsored by the IBM z Systems Academic Initiative, which has provided mainframe training and curriculum resources to students at more than 1,000 schools in 70 countries.

This year’s contest attracted thousands of entries from students from all around the world, and last week the top nine finalists came to San Francisco for an intensive three-day final round. All of the contestants were given the same set of data and asked to use Apache Spark to identify and analyze business trends. The competition completed with the participants presenting their findings and approach to a selected few from IBM and Rocket including Ross Mauri, GM of IBM z Systems.

I was fortunate enough to spend time with these nine amazing individuals from around the world – mentoring them and finally judging their presentations. We chatted about the competition, the work they had done, the challenges that they had encountered, their journey to the mainframe, blockchain, gadgets that we are building at home and a host of other things. We even spent a good hour discussing the new ground breaking algorithms for time series analysis and machine learning on Spark – yes, it couldn’t have been more geeky but we were all proud geeks in San Francisco.

I was blown away with the ease with which they were able to navigate the competition. None of them had any substantial experience in data analysis or with the z Systems (or presenting to executives). Not only did they finish on top and master those skills, they were also able to effectively articulate why Spark on z was such an important milestone in both Rocket and IBM’s effort to bring analytics closer to critical customer data.

As judges, we deliberated for close to an hour to choose the top three. It was an extremely hard decision for the judges but a decision had to be made and three finalists were chosen.

The three finalists (one from Spain, one from China, and one from Canada) then flew to Las Vegas, where Ross Mauri, GM of z Systems for IBM, announced the winner during his keynote presentation at Edge.

This year’s winner was Antonio Alvarez Rodriguez, a recent graduate of Universidad de A Coruña in Spain. Congratulations to Antonio, and to all of the other finalists who put so much time and effort into this contest. And based on the quality of their work, I think it’s safe to say that the future of mainframes is in good hands!

For the rest of you, a new Master the Mainframe contest is around the corner. Keep an eye out on the IBM website.

Master the Mainframe 2

Master the Mainframe 3

Bryan Smith with winners

CTO Bryan Smith with Master the Mainframe contest winners

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Azeem Ahmed
Azeem Ahmed joined Rocket Software in 2003 as a Software Engineer after having graduated from UT Austin. Over the course of past fifteen years, he has held many engineering and management roles. In his current role as Chief Technologist for Cloud, Azeem helps lead Rocket R&D around Hybrid & Public Cloud, is responsible for Rocket’s Cloud strategy, and leads Emerging Tech Research Group focused on Big Data Analytics & Cloud. In addition to this role, Azeem was instrumental in conceiving the Rocket.Build program – an internal hackathon for Rocket Engineers. He continues to direct that program every year for our engineers.

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One Response to The Mainframe Mastered

  1. Vance Morris September 21, 2016 at 12:25 pm #

    Great recap Azeem! It was really nice to get to know you over the last week and I’m looking forward to working together on future endeavors. Keep the BBQ warm for me down there in Austin & let me know if you get up to DFW.

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